There are two new faces at the Bravo Station of the Lee County Sheriff's Office. Capt. John Haberman is the new local substation commander and Lt. Tim Short is the second in command. The two new officers have been in Lehigh for only a few weeks now and are making the rounds to the different businesses and organizations.
"We plan to become involved in the activities of Lehigh and let the people we know we are here to help them in any way we can," Haberman said.
One of those ways the community can help the new captain and lieutenant is to be aware of what is going around you and be the eyes and ears to aid the Sheriff's Office.
"If someone is suspicious of something, they should call us. No matter when the time is. If people see unusual activity going on at a house where there possibly be a residential burglary or even a grow house for marijuana, we want the residents to let us know. If you see drugs being exchanged or any other type of drug activity, let us know.
"No call is unimportant to us," he said.
Lehigh is one of the largest districts that the Lee County Sheriff's Office covers from Hendry County to the outskirts of Lehigh. Many homes are built in remote areas and security is important.
"We have thousands of people who drive into Fort Myers and Cape Coral to work and their homes may be empty during the day. Although we have personnel working shifts around the clock, always looking for suspicious activity, we need the eyes of the people who live here. They can be of great help to us. They can help us solve crime," Haberman said.
Haberman officially became the commander at the Lehigh Bravo Substation on Nov. 12, coming from the Watch Commander's Division. Coming with him from the same division is Lt. Tim Short. The prior commander in Lehigh, Capt. Ron Curtis, was transferred to the Watch Commander's Division.
Haberman attended last month's East County Water Control District for the swearing in ceremony of the new board. He and Lt. Short were new and introduced themselves.
It was probably the first public meeting that the two had attended and few knew who had come in to sit down. They were two officers unfamiliar in Lehigh.
"But we want to change that and become community involved. I just attended a Community Council meeting and got to meet some of Lehigh's leaders. We want to become part of Lehigh. We like Lehigh and we plan to keep up the good coverage the community has had before," he said.
The new commander doesn't see any big changes to be made in Lehigh, but he can't stress enough, he said, to enlist the people in the community to help them.
"Homes in remote areas can often be the target of those who would break into house. It is important to have some sort of alarms and other means, even those a homeowner can do himself, installed to keep others out," he said.
"If someone sees something out of character in an area, something that just doesn't look right, call us. If it is an emergency, a crime in progress, call 911 and report it immediately. If you have been noticing unusual activity or strange vehicles in neighborhoods, call the Sheriff's Office main number at 477-1000," he said.
The department has 60 slots for policing in Lehigh and the officers are assigned different shifts, pointing to the importance of community policing with the aid of citizens and businesses.
Haberman noted that the department has good people who will come out to your club or organization or even to your business to talk about crime prevention and how to protect your property. Many in Lehigh know Larry Gutridge who has helped many residents develop programs to deter criminals.
"These neighborhood watches are very important and out people are always ready to show the community what an individual homeowner can do to protect his or her property," he said.
He also mentioned another person, well-known to many in Lehigh. She is Andrea Adams, who was responsible a few years ago with the Weed and Seed movement, whose funding was ended by the government.
"Andrea is permanently assigned to the Lehigh substation. She is very good in helping us get grants that may help in fighting crime here. She is very good at problem solving," he said.
Becoming involved in law enforcement has always been Haberman's goal in life.
"It was always my dream to become a law enforcement officer. I have been in the law enforcement field for nearly 20 years and have been working with the Lee County Sheriff's Office for more than 14 years, and I enjoy what we are doing, helping to fight crime and take the criminals off the streets," he said.
He noted that Lehigh crimes consist mainly of burglaries, juvenile problems and residential burglaries. He and his department always know the "hot spots" in Lehigh where crimes are more prominent. They tag such spots on a large map and the information is also reported to officials in headquarters.
"We call it crime mapping," he said. The commander said he would like to see more lighting in Lehigh and better streets and plans to become an advocate for such improvements.
"Again, we are here to help the great people of Lehigh. And with their help, we can do that," Haberman said. We will continue to nominate our officers who have done outstanding work for recognition by the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce."